Coach John Fox announced Cutler will have surgery to repair the labrum in his right shoulder, an outcome the quarterback hoped to avoid. Eight days after Fox said Cutler’s injury was not season-ending, it turns out to be exactly so.
With the procedure now scheduled for Saturday, it’s quite possible — probable, even — that Cutler has played his final game for the Bears.
In the weeks and months ahead, this regime, which inherited Cutler, must decide whether they want the veteran to remain part of a rebuilding effort that has sputtered to an 8-19 record since 2015.
Their options don’t appear to be compelling. Cutler turns 34 in April, is scheduled to make between $12.5 and $15 million next season, and he will be coming off surgery on his throwing shoulder.
But Cutler’s contract contains no deadlines that would force the Bears into action. They could keep him on the roster well into 2017 and let the player acquisition cycle evolve while fluidly evaluating their options.
It would not be surprising if general manager Ryan Pace held out hope of trading Cutler, given how Pace has salvaged late-round draft picks in separate trades involving players he was determined to part with, receiver Brandon Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennett.
Cutler’s trade value, though, figures to diminish because of his surgery. The team and the player hoped to avoid such a drastic measure because of the rehabilitation required and how that will last…